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Various Artists: The First Waltz

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Concert video from the March 25, 1999, "First Waltz" charity concert at the Metro in Chicago, with Rick Danko, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins (appearing with his father), and other stars, including some of the best performers the Chicago music scene has to offer. All proceeds from the video and the concert go to "Neon Street" a Chicago charity that helps homeless kids. The event was put together by Nicolas Tremulis, who acted as musical host and also performed with his band.

Basically, the film covers performances by The Nicholas Tremulis Band, Danko, Cheap Trick's Rick Nielson, a few members of the BoDeans, Ivan Neville, Lonnie Brooks, Sonia Dada, Sir Mack Rice, Robbie Fulks, Jon Langford, Alejandro Escovedo, the younger and older Billy Corgan and some lesser known artists like Sammy Llanes, Gary Yerkins, Alice Peacock, and Blondie Chaplin, all turning in great, emotional performances. The movie was shot in HDTV, with excellent sound and image quality.

On the video, Rick Danko and Aaron "Professor Louie" Hurwitz perform "Book Faded Brown" from Jubilation and the video's final song, an "all-star" version of "The Weight" with over 30 people on stage. Several other Band songs were played at the concert.

Concert Review - "The First Waltz"
Review from Sonicnet.

CHICAGO -- If a tension-filled generation gap still exists, it was nowhere in evidence at the Metro Thursday. Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan stood in the spotlight with his father, guitarist Billy Corgan Sr., for the pair's first public performance together. The warmth on display as they played two blues songs perfectly suited the occasion: a star-studded benefit for the Neon Street program for local homeless teens. "Some of you don't know me," the elder Corgan -- a top Chicago blues session guitarist during the 1960s -- deadpanned. "My name is Billy Corgan." "I'd like to thank you for having me at this moment," his superstar son replied.

From just a quick glance at the crowded stage, it might have been hard to tell who was whom. On the right stood a bald man dressed respectfully in a sharp burgundy suit and black shirt: Corgan Jr. Next to him stood his dusty-blond-haired father, decked out in worn, olive-drab Army duds over a black Harley Davidson T-shirt.

While the night featured performances by members of the Band, the BoDeans and Cheap Trick along with the Mekons' Jon Langford, Robbie Fulks, Alejandro Escovedo and others, it was clear from their screams of delight that most of the crowd had come to see the Corgans. Father and son walked onstage and ripped into a furious rock interpretation of Robert Johnson's eerie Delta blues classic "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day." They were backed by the evening's house group, the Nicholas Tremulis Band, whose namesake leader organized the concert. Billy Corgan Sr.'s face beamed a mix of pride and pleasure as his son took off on a series of Pumpkins-esque solos on his sunburst Fender Stratocaster. Full-bore, fast drums propelled the cut like a train welded to a rocket ship.

In his trademark, greasy whine, the Pumpkins leader delivered a biting take on Johnson's mix of the sorrowful and the sinister. Lines like "If I had possession over judgment day/ The woman I'm lovin' wouldn't have no right to pray" jibed well with the twisted sentiment of such recent Corgan works, as "Ava Adore" (RealAudio excerpt). "That's my boy," his father said before kicking into a traditional Chicago blues identified on the setlist as "Muddy Waters"; it included lines from country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers' "T for Texas." The senior Corgan set off a string of solos on a weathered Flying V guitar that were less frenetic than his son's. With the crowd hollering, Corgan Jr. raised his eyebrows and watched, as if to say, "Damn, look at him!"

While the Corgans' pairing threatened to overshadow the rest of the show, Tremulis' band and several guests gave inspired performances. The concert, called "The First Waltz," was loosely organized as a tribute to the Band's star-filled 1976 farewell concert and film, "The Last Waltz."

The stage became a revolving door of musicians. Blues guitarist Lonnie Brooks and harp player Sugar Blue stepped up for Muddy Waters' "Louisiana Blues," while the BoDeans hit the stage for a soulful spin through "Blue Moon" and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson rocked through his band's "Downed." Soul singers Sonia Dada and keyboardist Ivan Neville lent a hand throughout the show, and Sir Mack Rice commanded the stage to bellow his own "Mustang Sally" (a hit for Wilson Pickett) and "Respect Yourself" (recorded most notably by the Staple Singers).

Original Band bassist Rick Danko came out to play the recent "Book Faded Brown" and then the vintage "It Makes No Difference." The stage quickly reached maximum capacity as Escovedo (ex-Rank and File), Langford and Fulks, plus the evening's other performers -- minus Corgan and his dad -- came out to jam on such Band chestnuts as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." "I'm sick as a dog," Langford said as he crowded next to Danko before the ensemble kicked into "Rag Mama Rag." "But I would crawl from my grave to sing this song with this man." The show ended after a rousing roll through the Band's signature number, "The Weight."

Tremulis then announced that a limited-edition home video of the concert is being produced by Palm Pictures for sale in the Chicago area this summer. Proceeds from the video and the concert will benefit Neon Street, a nonprofit organization providing shelter, meals and counseling to homeless Chicago teens.

Various Artists - The First Waltz - 1999 - Palm Pictures

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